An international interfaith commission has called for an end to violence against and criminalization of LGBTQ+ people and a global ban on conversion therapy.
The declaration by the Global Interfaith Commission on LGBT+ Lives, which launched Dec. 16, 2020, was signed by around 400 religious leaders from more than 35 countries.
Among the launch signatories of the declaration were Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada; Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario Archbishop Anne Germond; and Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC and Yukon Archbishop Melissa Skelton.
“Our baptismal covenant calls us to respect the dignity of every human being,” Nicholls said when reached for comment by the Journal.
“That inherent respect means that we must oppose criminalizing people simply for who they are or trying to make them into something else. We are all children of God, created in the image of God, and deserve that respect and dignity,” she said.
An introduction to the declaration on the commission’s website states, “We recognize that certain religious teachings have, throughout the ages, been misused to cause deep pain and offense to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex.” The declaration is meant to “affirm and celebrate the dignity of all, independent of a person’s sexuality, gender expression and gender identity.”
Among the statements contained in the declaration are: an affirmation “that all human beings of different sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions are a precious part of creation and are part of the natural order”; an acknowledgment that religious teachings have perpetuated violence against LGBTQ+ people; a call for all nations to “put an end to criminalization on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity”; and a call “for all attempts to change, suppress or erase a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression—commonly known as ‘conversion therapy’—to end, and for these harmful practices to be banned.”
Conversion therapy practices as defined by a 2020 UN Report are interventions “aimed at effecting a change from nonheterosexual to heterosexual and from trans or gender diverse to cisgender.” The same report found that conversion therapy is practiced in at least 68 countries, though estimates suggest there are instances of these practices in every country. In Canada, federal legislation to ban conversion therapy was approved in principle in October 2020.
The full declaration and list of signatories is available to view at globalinterfaith.lgbt.